BOWLING GREEN, OH (Toledo News Now) – Eric Rine, 11, is a Bowling Green 5th grader whose family has a long history with the Children's Miracle Network at Mercy Children's Hospital.
Eric loves a game of golf, bike riding, skateboarding, knee board riding, and many other sports.
The first thing you see when you look at Eric is the wheelchair, but spending 5 minutes with him will change that.
"Eric doesn't know he can't do anything. We've never said you can't do that -- it's how are you going to do it?" said his mother Stephanie.
It was Almost 12 years ago, Stephanie Rine and her husband found out their third child was going to be born with spina bifida. Stephanie was 18 weeks pregnant when she first got the news during an ultrasound.
"And I just remember immediately my heart just thumping and pounding. My husband was holding my hand and he just gripped tighter," Stephanie explained.
Spina bifida is a condition where the spinal cord does not close in utero. Eric was born with a hole in his back about the size of a half dollar, and his spinal cord was protruding in a fluid filled sack.
The Rines got connected with Mercy Children's Hosptial after finding out about Eric's condition. The hospital has a clinic for children born with spina bifida.
"It was the greatest thing for us being so overwhelmed by so many medical needs and issues that there was already a team of people that were experts and that could reassure us- we will help you with this we will do that and everything was mapped out before Eric was born," Stephanie said.
After Eric was born he was immediately whisked away, and two hours later went into his first surgery. In Eric's first year of life, he had 7 surgeries and 152 doctor's appointments.
In the last 11 years the number of surgeries has increased to 20, most of them at Mercy Children's Hospital.
"And just to be able to go up the road a half an hour and have all the specialists right there that gave Eric such excellent care- it really helped our quality of life. You're already going through such a hard time and to have such a wonderful facility literally in your backyard," said Stephanie.
Today, if Eric is not on the golf course you might find him competing in a 5k bike race, with his boy scout troop, watching NASCAR, popping wheelies, or maybe on his knee board. He has also been chosen as the Children's Miracle Network Champion Kid for the state of Ohio, and it is easy to see why.
"Eric is that person. He will do anything and everything," said his golf coach Dave Sanford.
"He's the bravest kid I know," said his mother proudly.